June 2, 2010

Garden Path Irises

This is the third year for the Japanese irises (iris ensata) in my garden. I began by using the irises along the dry stream. I am gradually dividing the clumps each fall. These divisions have been planted in groups along a garden path.

Of the three irises that I grow, my favorite is a lavender-blue, but the only one positively identified is the white 'Mount Fuji'. Although the blooms don't last very long, the foliage remains beautiful until fall. Most of the time, the irises are ignored by the deer, but an occasional bloom may be picked. I've not had sufficient damage to be deterred from growing the irises and consider the perennials to be deer tolerant.

Japanese irises prefer rich, moist soil, but mine easily survived drought, once they were established. Growing in full or partial sun in zones 4-9 and reaching heights of 24-36 inches, these are easy perennials to use in the garden.

The irises are great plants to use with coneflowers (echinacea) and bee balm (monarda) for a similar bloom time. I also use swamp milkweed (asclepias incarnata) for summer bloom and recently added joe pye weed (eupatorium dubium) as a fall bloom companion.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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